asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will make a statement on the question of providing loans instead of grants, to postgraduate students.
My right hon. Friend has no statement to make at present.
Is my hon. Friend aware that many education authorities, occasionally for extremely good reasons, find it impossible to make grants to postgraduate students but that the same students might well be enabled to have a loan and therefore to continue with their studies?
The greater amount of support comes from central funds in one way or another, but, as I say, I am not in a position to make a statement about a switch to loans for postgraduates.
Would the hon. Gentleman give an assurance that when the time comes to make a policy statement, it will not be done simply in answer to a Written or Oral Question but that he will give the House a formal statement in view of the important principles involved?
Yes. There will need to be consultation and we shall not do it in the way that the last Government announced the increases in fees for overseas students—by a Written Question on the last day that Parliament sat.
All these exchanges surprise me. Are the Government considering loans instead of grants for postgraduate students?
My right hon. Friend has said in public that it is one of the matters under consideration in the context of the future development of higher education.